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lower class whites lack “morality”
Posted: 16 February 2012 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Mirana:

I think it’s a great list.  I’m not too keen about money, but as long as I have money to keep a roof over my head, enough food for my cats and me, phone/internet, clean clothes, medical care, basic needs for myself (and my sons, if need be, given they are grown now) and my cats, that is, I’m happy.  Personally, I really don’t like the economic system we currently have, in part because people don’t know what is enough, but I guess for now we are stuck with it.  It’s a shame too, because I see it as a system based on greed and not on human needs.

i am starting a new thread with this because it is a bit off the topic of the “top five regrets of dying”
From the Lexington column in the Feb 4th Economist, a commentary on Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 by Charles Murray

“Most in need of instruction is a new lower class, perhaps a fifth of the white population (Mr Murray excludes blacks and Latinos, simplifying his thesis by taking race out of the equation), whose plight forms the next part of his book. This class is in the throes of disintegration. Too many of its men will not work; too many of its women raise their children out of wedlock; religious worship is in decline. In lower-class neighborhoods the togetherness of communities has vanished. Family, pride in work, religiosity, community:  these, says Mr. Murray, are “the stuff of life”. Take them away and you block the road to happiness.”

Murray postulates that these problems of the “lower class is a result of poor morality.”  IMO he is wrong.  The reason for the lifestyles he is describing is the lack of decent paying, secure jobs for those without more than high school degrees.  Without adequate and secure incomes it is impossible to build a decent family & community life and what is the point of working if the pay doesn’t cover the bills?

What do you think, are we heading back to Dickens’ times.

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Posted: 16 February 2012 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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FWIW Paul Krugman has responded in some detail to Charles Murray’s book: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

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Posted: 16 February 2012 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks Doug:

I particually liked the following quotes:

“But this argument applies just as much to the rich as to the poor. And strange to say, you never do find conservatives arguing that we shouldn’t worry about higher tax rates on the rich, because they’ll just work harder to be able to afford those luxury goods; or that a higher inheritance tax probably expands work effort, because it would force the Paris Hiltons of this world to go out and get real jobs.”

“For lower-education working men, however, it has been all negative. Adjusted for inflation, entry-level wages of male high school graduates have fallen 23 percent since 1973. Meanwhile, employment benefits have collapsed. In 1980, 65 percent of recent high-school graduates working in the private sector had health benefits, but, by 2009, that was down to 29 percent.”

So we have become a society in which less-educated men have great difficulty finding jobs with decent wages and good benefits. Yet somehow we’re supposed to be surprised that such men have become less likely to participate in the work force or get married, and conclude that there must have been some mysterious moral collapse caused by snooty liberals. And Mr. Murray also tells us that working-class marriages, when they do happen, have become less happy; strange to say, money problems will do that. Paul Krugman.”

Nice to know a Noble prize winning economist supports my position.  LOL

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Posted: 16 February 2012 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I have not read Murray’s new book, and probably won’t because I don’t want him to have any of my money; but the idea that lack of morals is the cause of the working class troubles is very laughable. However, it’s not entirely inaccurate to label many healthy young white Americans as lazy slobs, that is somewhat true. The reason for that is too much indulgence. Our fathers and grandfathers were largely motivated with force by their parents, but force has been off the menu for the younger generations.

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Posted: 16 February 2012 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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So what would happen if we turn the argument on its head and society breaks away from those snooty liberals with their charts and graphs and becomes moral?  Will all of those jobs return? Will the industrialists bring back the smokestack industries that the blue collar laborers relied on for a living wage? Will affordable health insurance and pensions be guaranteed once again? Does this guy work for Dobson’s focus on the family club?


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Posted: 07 March 2012 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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mid atlantic - 16 February 2012 05:23 PM

I have not read Murray’s new book, and probably won’t because I don’t want him to have any of my money; but the idea that lack of morals is the cause of the working class troubles is very laughable. However, it’s not entirely inaccurate to label many healthy young white Americans as lazy slobs, that is somewhat true. The reason for that is too much indulgence. Our fathers and grandfathers were largely motivated with force by their parents, but force has been off the menu for the younger generations.

Correct. Schools boards mostly do not endorse any drills with math, as it’s thought to be forcing.
It needn’t not be fun, though. They miss something important, as many high school kids, it seems, cannot do basic multiplication and division, at the store. They cannot say what 45/9 is. They pick the size of product they need, and have to assume economy size is a better deal than any of the the smaller sizes..which is not always so.
It’s a costly omission.

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Posted: 08 March 2012 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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As I see it there’s a great correlation over the last 50 years between the degradation Murray sees and the carefully planned dismantling of our educational system.  If one looks at the U.S. prior to, say, 1935 the same criticisms could be made because there were few jobs available to the lower class, uneducated people and there was widespread poverty.  Between the training that was given in the armed forces and of the people who were at home to fill the jobs not formerly available to them, then the G.I. Bill after the war, we made huge advances in educating our citizens. 

By 1960 we began defunding schools and raising tuitions.  Preschools in poorer districts were phased out so the kids there were at a disadvantage by the first grade.  You can’t expect discouraged children to be interested in learning when they just face repeated failure.  With no education and no prospect for decent jobs we got what the plutocrats planned—a growing class of peons who can be manipulated and not participate in voting.

Occam

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Posted: 08 May 2012 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I just finished Murray’s book, and I found it very disappointing. As usual, Murray did an excellent job at collecting all the relevant data, but the conclusions he comes to are not even worth discussing. Throughout most of the book I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or be upset that I was even reading it. What it basically comes down to is poor people having lost their moral values, and the rich ones not willing to share their superior moral knowledge with the lower class.

What I found absolutely fascinating was Murray’s criticism of the left acting all “PC” and not willing to accept that biology has probably a lot to do with all of this, when all along that’s exactly what he was doing himself throughout the book: focusing on the environment and coming up with bogus ideas on how to fix the problem. Murray is obviously a libertarian so his solutions are different from those of the liberals, but they are, IMO, just as wrong.

But the data are great, and the problem does exist. I have my own opinion as to what may be causing it and what to expect in the future, but I am not as sure as Murray or those on the left that there is much we can do about it.

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Posted: 08 May 2012 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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garythehuman - 16 February 2012 04:10 PM

Murray postulates that these problems of the “lower class is a result of poor morality.”  IMO he is wrong.  The reason for the lifestyles he is describing is the lack of decent paying, secure jobs for those without more than high school degrees.  Without adequate and secure incomes it is impossible to build a decent family & community life and what is the point of working if the pay doesn’t cover the bills?

What do you think, are we heading back to Dickens’ times.

I think you left out the HOPE part of this equation, where is there a realistic satisfying future waiting for the lower classes these days?

For eons, that class of people found hope in braking out and traveling to a new frontier and making a go at it. Or took comfort in those people leaving home and taking some of the pressure off the domestic front.

Where are the new frontiers these days {in a world shrunken and battered by a mind-set that believes consuming everything as fast as possible is the only way to live}?
and for shit sake pleaz don’t say the moon and mars.  downer

[ Edited: 08 May 2012 07:28 AM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 08 May 2012 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Although my first reaction to the title of this thread is Where the Heck is the Upper Class’s “morality.”

Remember those grand parties Republicans had during Bush’s reelection - while we where bombing the hell out of innocent neighborhoods.

Those people have no morality and are at least a dumb about the world as poor folks, (take the Coke Bro’s, or that Chicago creep underwriting the Heartland Institute… dumb as can be)  except for the part of how to exploit and gather more wealth, but in complete disregard (disinterest) for the price (fallout) of their wealth hoarding.

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Posted: 08 May 2012 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Ugh, I can’t even imagine reading Murray’s book. Thanks to those who took the hit for team and summarized for us. 

There’s an interesting article on CommonDreams by Noam Chomsky today entitled A Rebellious World or a New Dark Age. He mentions a memo sent out by Citigroup to investors basically saying “the plutonomy is in, the precariat is out”. Plutonomy refers to the 1% those who will purchase luxury. Precariat refers to the people living in a precarious situation, i.e. many of the 99%.  Point is, since the 70’s there has been a concerted effort to divide society into the haves and have nots BY DESIGN.  Has nothing do with morality other than the lack of it in the financial elites who have implemented the divide. It also appears be the work of both parties, or rather the neo-liberals conservatives (not to be confused with Liberals) in both parties.

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Posted: 08 May 2012 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Well, as I already mentioned above, Murray’s book is not completely useless. The information he presents to describe the problem is real and worth looking at. And I wonder how much we can blame the rich for the situation of the poor. It’s not really that the poor are poorer than they used to be in the sixties (actually they are a bit richer), but what seems troubling is everything else in their lives: divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, social trust, their general level of happiness, productivity, etc.

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Posted: 08 May 2012 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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And just in case anybody cares what my opinion is, I think the problem is overpopulation. I know, I have always said that the evidence seems to be pointing in the other direction, but I think I am now ready to change my opinion. I have also been open to the possibility that we are in fact headed for another Malthusian trap and I am now more convinced than ever before that it may in fact be what is happening.

So, the reason why the poor are becoming to suffer on a much larger scale is, IMO, because there are simply too many of them. Although the ration of the poor vs. the rich may have remained the same, it probably makes a difference when you have an island with a population of 100 people where 10% are unproductive, i.e. 10 people, and an island with a population of 10,000 people where 10% of the unproductive individuals would give us 1,000 people. Basically, the interaction of the ten unproductive people of the smaller island will create less problems than the interaction of the 1,000 unproductive people on the bigger island. (Another problem may be multiculturalism, accounting for at least some of the problems in our society.)

And the same goes for the rich, with one exception: the larger the population, the richer the rich will become. They now have more opportunities to try different things and cash in on the creativity and ideas of the larger population.

I will, therefore, now take the opportunity to sound like the alarmists I have always criticized before, and suggest that we are probably due for another—and this will be the big one—Malthusian crisis. At least the shocking data in Murray’s book seem to support such a possibility.

[ Edited: 08 May 2012 12:49 PM by George ]
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Posted: 08 May 2012 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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It’d certainly be comforting to think the problem is something sort of out of our control, like overpopulation.  But it’s not. It’s by design by some IMO very evil people.  I look at it this way.  Just because the Fascists were defeated in WW2 doesn’t mean their IDEAS were defeated.  The Fascists of today learned how NOT to proceed (i.e. no blustering Hitler, Moussilini types).  They’ve learned to control things from behind the scenes using what to most of us is obtuse economics theory. 

Don’t take my word for it though.  And don’t write off what I say as “conspiracy”.  Read for yourself, for example Shock Doctrine (Klein), or Overthrow (Kinzer).  Read up on the Chicago School of Economics, etc. It’s real and it’s happening worldwide.  Every case where you hear of an “austerity program being imposed” like in Greece, you’ll see the Chicago Schools theories being played out.  And the grief of the poor and middle class is just one symptom…by design.

[ Edited: 08 May 2012 01:19 PM by CuthbertJ ]
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Posted: 08 May 2012 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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CuthbertJ - 08 May 2012 01:17 PM

It’d certainly be comforting to think the problem is something sort of out of our control, like overpopulation.

Why on earth would that be comforting?

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Posted: 08 May 2012 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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CuthbertJ - 08 May 2012 01:17 PM

It’d certainly be comforting to think the problem is something sort of out of our control, like overpopulation.  But it’s not. It’s by design by some IMO very evil people.  I look at it this way.  Just because the Fascists were defeated in WW2 doesn’t mean their IDEAS were defeated.  The Fascists of today learned how NOT to proceed (i.e. no blustering Hitler, Moussilini types).  They’ve learned to control things from behind the scenes using what to most of us is obtuse economics theory. 

Don’t take my word for it though.  And don’t write off what I say as “conspiracy”.  Read for yourself, for example Shock Doctrine (Klein), or Overthrow (Kinzer).  Read up on the Chicago School of Economics, etc. It’s real and it’s happening worldwide.  Every case where you hear of an “austerity program being imposed” like in Greece, you’ll see the Chicago Schools theories being played out.  And the grief of the poor and middle class is just one symptom…by design.

The Chicago School has been a major player, providing intellectual cover, in the attack on the Keynesian underpinnings of FDR’s New Deal and Kennedy/Johnson’s Great Society.  The results of this undermining of Keynesian economics is a return to the skewed economics of US society of the roaring 20s and to the greater income disparties that exisited before the depression on the 1930s, with all the social problems that entails.  Remember this economic basic: Reduced mass markets equal reduced economic oppurunity to all those except those favored elities currently in power.

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